Government urged to 'step up' worker protection as Omicron spreads

Provincial government asked to expand PCR testing and provide permanent sick leave among other things

Government urged to 'step up' worker protection as Omicron spreads

The Saskatchewan government is being encouraged to step up and make PCR testing more accessible to workers as the Omicron variant 'spreads across the province like wildfire'. The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL) last week laid out a list of recommendations to the government to help keep workers safe as the highly transmissible Omicron variant spreads:

  • Expanding access to PCR testing province-wide
  • Prioritising booster shots for all front-line workers, including teachers and education workers
  • Ensuring all workers have access to proper personal protective equipment, including N-95 masks
  • Reducing capacities in workplaces and provide supports for workers who are affected in addition to the Federal Worker Lockdown Benefit
  • Immediately enacting legislation granting 10 days of permanent, paid sick leave for all workers
  • Enacting presumptive Workers' Compensation Board (WCB) coverage for workers who contract COVID-19 on the job and contract long-term illness

"As Omicron spreads across the province like wildfire, we need action right now to ensure workers are kept safe," SFL president Lori Johb said.

Read more: Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer was sent threatening emails: government

The recommendations were made as the government called on asymptomatic individuals who tested positive on rapid tests to no longer get a PCR test to confirm their results. However, without the PCR test workers will be ineligible for support under the WCB, which covers COVID-19 claims if workers can confirm that they were exposed to virus while on the job.

"We must expand access to PCR testing to make sure that those who have become infected have official documentation as part of their health record," said Johb in reaction.

The official also encouraged those who are feeling sick to get an official PCR test if they can.

"The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is a clear workplace occupational health and safety hazard, and it's time for our government to step up and do their duty to make sure that workers are kept safe at work," she also said.

Saskatchewan recorded a total of 1,099 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, according to Global News, with 7,418 active infections.

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